As posted in the Gaston Gazette
Many people assume that marketing is simple – a list of tips and tricks that fit every audience and business. A communications umbrella of strategies that applies to all, if you will. But there exists subtle yet pivotal variances in the marketing tactics necessary for every business, particularly in sharing what the business offers. Attracting a CEO to use a new corporate attorney for services requires different tools of the trade than enticing that same person to purchase a toy for a child.
Although the end goal may be the same – achieve new customers or clients – the sale of a service versus a product, a corporate attorney versus a toy, demands the same core principles with nuanced differences in order to achieve success. Here are five distinctions in their marketing approaches:
- Service-selling is based on trust. Product-based sales, including marketing objectives, invite potential customers to see, touch and feel the item prior to purchase. Marketing and advertising tactics often detail a tangible object’s benefits or features, appealing to shortcomings or desires among the audience. But, ultimately, a person has the ability to “test drive” every product – from literally test-driving vehicles to trying on clothing, assessing electronics, viewing packaging and more. And should a buyer not be satisfied with his or her purchase? One can return the product. Services come with no such trial or money-back guarantee. Rather, marketing efforts must rely on garnering trust from the audience; customers and clients must feel comfortable with their decision-making, with the possible benefits to emerge, upon commitment. Marketing and advertising should strive to gain that trust in its messaging. Without an ability to evaluate a service prior to a sale, individuals have to rely on marketing promises in addition to business feedback – reviews and word-of-mouth – when placing trust into any service-oriented exchange.
- Identical sales or customization. When sharing a product with customers, businesses and their marketing team have the luxury of selling the same exact item repeatedly. You can sell identical versions of a product to numerous customers, all while touting that specific creation’s explicit advantages through marketing and advertising endeavors. Service selling, however, involves customization – customization in personal approach sharing the service as well as customization in marketing or advertising tactics. Unlike products, services cannot be stocked in advance and are rarely duplicated precisely; business leadership must skillfully describe the tailored service and its anticipated results to attain sales. Simply put, the key difference is that products are made in advance while services are sold then brought to fruition.
- Deliver appealing visuals differently. Product marketing and advertising relies heavily on the object being sold – its physical attributes and its appeal to the eye. Visually, communications tactics portray these benefits in a straightforward way via graphics that showcase the product and its features. By displaying a product, its capabilities and its beauty – be it inherent or as a result of pristine packaging – consumers can become increasingly excited to buy. Service visuals, conversely, must paint a picture of work-in-action to be successful. Images featuring happy customers, interacting staff and positive results aid in building credibility and trust for potential audience members. Both product and service marketing, however, can depict solutions to audience needs to drive future business growth. Whether it’s a kitchen tool highlighted on an infomercial or an accountant promoting his tax preparation skills, solutions marketing and advertising visually and otherwise can aid business growth immensely.
- Selling is service; service is selling. In 2011, Once in a Blue Moose – a chain of novelty shops in Alaska – posted a training video to YouTube (https://youtu.be/t9il52dlnnc) that went viral within a few months. “Service is selling and selling is service” sings the video’s cast of employees. They reiterate the importance of customer service with catchy, rhyming lyrics in a three-minute clip that the brand’s office manager described as “really hokey, over-the-top corny” in 2012 to New York Daily News. Although the video’s purpose was training, its point resonates a primary difference in service and product sales – service is Products provide a uniform solution to customers’ problems and, thus, have an ability to sell themselves once communications tactics ensure news reaches audiences. Services require superb customer service; a salesperson, corporate attorney, accountant, etc. – is an integral part of the success package, pivotal in delivering a business services that exceeds expectations.
- Relationship-building is essential for sharing services. Businesses that provide services of varying kinds depend on repeat customers. More often than not, services must be rendered multiple times to the same individuals for a business to thrive. Consequently, relationship-building is crucial. Trust needs to be proven within a first encounter then subsequently maintained with every service delivered. Customer service must do more than just meet expectations, but also surpass them repeatedly. Think of your favorite business: if the interaction is lackluster, the service becomes less desirable. Relationships rely on these facets, and relationships develop into referrals that allow a service-oriented business to grow. As businesses ensure dependability and satisfaction to complete product sales, service selling requires this as well as positive connections for success.
The sale of products versus services has created a major shift in marketing and advertising endeavors, but business owners should not be dissuaded from sharing their unique offerings to audiences. Through creative communications and targeted tactics, business goals can be achievable no matter what you provide the customer.